Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Leap Year Treat

Mother Nature's Light Show
February 29, 2016

Nearly every four years is a leap year which has 366 days, as opposed to a common year, which has 365 in the Gregorian Calendar. We add a Leap Day on February 29, almost every four years. The leap day is an extra, or intercalary, day and we add it to the shortest month of the year, February. An extra day is not added if the year is divisible by 100 or 400.

During our Hurtigruten coastal voyage, February 29th was not only an extra day, but an extra special day. It would be our first Northern Lights sighting of our voyage. The reason for cruising Norway in winter was so that we'd have the opportunity to experience Northern Lights.  On day 5, somewhere north of Tromsø, our dreams came true.

After Dinner Treat

Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) is a natural phenomenon that is caused by electrically charged particles, hurled from the sun, colliding with gases in the Earth's atmosphere. The Earth's magnetic field directs the particles towards openings near the North (and South) Poles.

 The Northern Lights can be many different colors (red, yellow-green, blue - purple, and sometimes white). You've probably seen spectacular photos of the lights on the web. Note that when you see them in real time, you might only see wispy activity in the sky and not the full spectrum of color. 

You'll need to photograph them, with proper manual settings and a tripod, to actually see them in their glory. The sunspots and solar storms that cause the most magnificent displays of the northern lights occur roughly every 11 years. The solar cycle peaked in 2013.

TIP: How to Photograph Northern Lights
Additional photos can be found on our Norway Shutterfly page

Northern Lights 02/29

Click on the image to the right for more Blog posts about this trip.

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